In a December 16, 2005 posting, I discussed a suit brought by Dale Chihuly against two other glassblowers. Mr. Chihuly's work, seen here at his website, may also be viewed at the Bronx Botanical gardens running June 25th through October 29th, and in some of Las Vegas's finest casinos. Today's New York Times has a front page (below the fold) story about the suit, entitled "Copycats, or Inspired by Nature? Glass Artists Face Off in Court?" While there are some pretty color pictures and some interesting information, the title seems to miss the essence of the dispute, although the story itself (by Timothy Egan) does not: that essence is the possible attempt by Mr. Chihuly to assert rights over techniques and style.
Mr. Chihuly's eminence in the field is unquestioned, even though he has not physically created works himself for 27 years due to a surfing accident (so West Coast!). He has 93 employees and a vigorous DVD market for films of his installations. While originality may not be an issue for his complex works, it is the scope of his claims that are the most troubling. This may be a case where a master mistakes himself for the art.